Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The New DCU

The New DCU

Yet another comic book post. I know, but it's important. Well, not really. But for those who nerd out about this sort of thing, the DC comics universe has just gotten a bit of a make over and with the release of Flashpoint #5, we finally figured out how.

For those of you at home keeping score, it went down like this. The Reverse Flash, Thawne reveals to Barry that because Barry went back in time to save his mother from Thawne killing her, Barry took in all the speedforce and then time exploded, creating this sort of altered timeline. The batman of this universe, Thomas Wayne, kills Thawne and tells Barry to run away. Barry then runs home to his mother and has a good cry before letting her go and travels back in time to punch himself in the face. Thus stopping him from going back in time. Bam! With that hit the DCnU begins.

And really, that's just fucking hilarious. Flashpoint could have been pretty awesome. But it ended up being two years worth of build up of Barry crying over his dead mother. But executing the reboot could have been awesome in every way. Perhaps DiDio and Lee need to go back in time and punch themselves allowing Final Crisis become the lead into a new reboot. Instead we get this ham-fisted mess.

It makes you wonder what Johns originally had planned for the Flashpoint ending. Because really, the reboot should have/could have been caused by Final Crisis considering time was collapsing into a single point in that story anyway.

Barry just ends up being the worst Flash ever. Wally would be shaking his head, you know, if he still existed. Which for some reason the DCnU has wiped Wally West, the Flash that took the mantle when Barry died and has been that character for the greater part of the last few decades.

Which leads me to hope that Wally just become the new Zoom. He would be the most sympathetic bad guy ever. He has every perfect reason to hate Barry as he erased his wife and children. All that time looking up to the guy just for him to do this would make it hard to find fault with the guy. How could you reshape the world around you without thinking of your nephew who was your side kick for years?

Then again, maybe I should just calm down......

Breath in... breath out. How bad can it be, right? Well, let's talk about today's first issue of the DCnU in Justice League #1

How can I put it in words? I mean, the story is blatantly paced-for-trades. Which means that a story that could have been written through 3 issues gets stretched out to 6 for the sake of collecting it in a trade to sell later on. It's really bad because when talking about the reboot, DC has been very outspoken in their proclamations of "no more writing for the trade".

Which is really odd to start off this DC's mega-hyped, once-in-decades attempt to capture new readers. It's essentially one chapter that only really features two members of the League and barely hints at the overall plot of the story. Do they honestly think that people will see this and want to pay $3.99 for 24 pages of story and wait a month for another chunk?

Which is also odd. Geoff Johns gets the chance to write the story that will be read by more eyes than anything else he will ever do and he spends 20 pages on Frank Miller's Batman's team up with the most cocky Hal Jordan I have read. In which they accomplish the singularly heroic task of watching evildoer's minion blowing himself up, with 4 bonus pages of poor sport Vic Stone running up the score on Mumford. More on that sick shit later.

But even if you're leading off with Batman and Hal, two characters who have had a movie out most recently, as well as being the two characters that have changed the least in this switch over. But even using pretty well established characters they really needlessly pointed out stupid shit about them.

Did you guy s know that Batman DOESN'T HAVE ANY POWERS?! How about that Green Lantern is part of a corps and there's thousands of them roaming around space sectors. Why thank you JLA #1 for hammering that fact into my brain about six billion times.

What was with Superman's first response to meeting Hal Jordan being to clock him and tossing him 30 feet. That sort of thing would have killed your average person. Besides that, isn't that Hal Jordan's thing these days? Punching first and asking questions never. Looks like Geoff got his characters mixed up.

It also feels like an eye rolling situation because when you think about it, it's really going to take only two issues before they rehash a Batman vs Superman fight? Oh how innovative... Oh wait, I guess since this is the DCnU, that situation has never happened before. Maybe Batman and Superman will go in for that first punch on to be broken up by the Flash for no particular reason.

The back and forth between the characters were nothing more than pissing matches and major super dickery right out of the gate it makes you wonder why these are the good guys. And not to mention that all the seams on the costumes are really becoming grating to me. They seem so unnecessary.

Back to Vic Stone. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the adventures of this character, it's a surprise to see how we're suppose to revel in his impending creation into Cyborg.
"Here's a boy who could be a quadzillionaire within 4 years thanks to being the best football player in history. Now let's all watch in awe as his body is horrendously mutilated!!!! He'll have to become a super person after this because it's either that or just die in a lump!".
It's so heart warming. It's sort of like being excited to see Bruce's parents get shot. But maybe Batman will take part of all this. Watch his horrible injuries are going to be the Justice League's fault and that will be used as the motivation for them to stop being such giant douchebags and actually go public to try and help people. Cyborgs parts will more than likely be some Wayne industries property.

Which I guess will at least add a reason as to why one kid who gets into an accident gets to be a superhero while every other amputee has to just deal with it.

Oddly enough, a lot of people have something new to deal with.. The price. For anyone who just got an iPhone/iPad and who purchase apps will be wondering why the pricing of all this is so insane for digital comics. Not just DC's. But as a whole. I mean, for $3 you can buy Angry Birds, Words with Friends or Bejeweled. Maybe if they were charging a dollar per issue, comics might reach the same level of those games in sales. But that shit isn't happening anytime soon at the price point they are suggesting.

Cameron Stewart wrote a really good piece a few months ago on how publishers ought to be aiming for a 99 cent price point, but sadly I can't find it anymore.

I get that there's a lot of cost going into making a comic book and 99 cents may be way too low for the amount being sold today, you don't think that a 99 cent comic will sell more issues in the long run? Maybe it's a matter of just adjusting the business model. Instead of charging $2.99 for 22 pages, you should be charging 99 cents for 10 pages.

I realize that 10 pages for a buck obviously isn't a better value than 20 pages for twice the price, but psychologically it pushes things more firmly into impulse-buy territory. Not to mention that it handles another problem that the comic industry faces - delay time.

Because even if the price point issue is resolved, there's the matter of reading one piece of the story and then waiting 30 days to get the next. You want to draw new readers in you need to give them a quicker turn around. I think that comics should probably be moving towards a weekly/biweekly storytelling model as standard. Having that 20 page piece of story every month just isn't very appealing to those who aren't already used to the Wednesday ritual.

It may mean a lower page count and content per week, but at least it keeps it fresh in your mind. How many shows would you be interested in watching if you only got an episode a month? Having less of it more often seems like an acceptable trade-off in the long run.

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